Saint Augustine’s University President Everett Ward often mentions his days as a student at Saint Augustine’s. His interaction with Dr. James Boyer, who was the seventh President of Saint Augustine, included the roles of professor-student, mentor-mentee and family friend. Dr. Ward’s family has known the Boyer family for many years; he was president at the time Dr. Ward’s father attended Saint Augustine’s. The advice and mentorship that Dr. Boyer gave is something he will never forget, Dr. Ward said.
That experience, Dr. Ward said, motivated him to offer current students the same experience: The SAU Experience. This is as new approach being instituted this academic year. The Falcon Forum sat down with Dr. Ward to find out more about the approach.
Q. Explain how students will benefit from this concept of the SAU Experience?
A. Our approach at Saint Augustine is clearly about the development of leaders. As the president, I have a deep and abiding commitment that there must be a new generation of leaders who use their intellect and their skills and their abilities to help others. It’s not only about their personal development but how they give back to society, So, I believe leadership development, as well as academic development, are critical.
That’s why under this administration we began what is called the Saint Augustine’s Experience, which is a five-prong approach to working with students in the areas of academic excellence, leadership development, cultural enrichment, health execution and spiritual formation. We just believe those are areas that require a very deliberate intervention and exact implementation strategy to develop the student from a holistic approach.
Q. What are plans to promote the launching of SAU experience?
A. Well we already have begun. I think our biggest launch is our students. The results are evident in the students we produce. We are going to continue to cultivate, groom and prepare and mentor and train the next generation with everything that we have available to us. It’s not only what happens in the classroom but what happens outside the classroom. So we are very committed to that dual-learning process were you gain theory and knowledge and experience in classroom, but outside the classroom you also have that developmental process that brings culture and arts and other opportunities to you and leadership developments as well.
Q. How can alumni be integrated into promoting the SAU experience?
A. I think with their own testimony. Our alumni are successful men and women who have their own story to tell about Saint Augustine’s. I firmly believe that when you can, through your living testimony, give evidence to the benefit that you derived from the university it certainly can help other students. I encourage alumni to be very liberal in their articulation of their great experience at Saint Augustine’s. I know I am…. [This is] an institution that I am extremely proud of and I know but for Saint Augustine’s we would have a different American landscape.
Q. When do you project the full effect of the SAU experience will be realized?
A. Like anything it will take some time. We can already see the beginning of it. This semester we had a wonderful experience with students where we had Dr. Chuck Davis and the African Dance Ensemble here for rite of passage ceremony and I thought that was extremely beneficial for our incoming freshman students.
Q. What do you expect from students this fall?
A. I expect student to embrace this golden opportunity they have been provided. Engagement intellectually is something you cannot take for granted. I hope that our students recognize that this is a privilege that very few people have an opportunity to be exposed to. Fewer and fewer people have exposure to college education or a university education. Subsequently you have to take advantage of that. I believe learning is a life-long experience. I want our students to …keep learning and enjoy the process of learning.
— Sharif Benis